Brexit: London calling for Tánaiste amid warning from DUP

Tánaiste Simon Coveney will meet British government ministers in London tomorrow to assess the latest efforts by London to resolve disagreement over Brexit and ahead of expected fresh proposals.

Downing Street is preparing to produce a third Brexit customs model that prime minister Theresa May may put to her cabinet later this week, it has been suggested.

This could be flagged at a meeting with cabinet ministers at her country residence at Chequers this week and is expected to recommend a Norway-style option, leaving Britain subject to some EU rules.

Iveagh House sources in Dublin say Mr Coveney, who is also Foreign Affairs Minister, will tomorrow meet minister for the cabinet office David Lidington among Tories to assess the latest Brexit developments.

There’s an understanding they are in an internal debate. We want to get insight into the Cabinet [there] while also keeping relations as close as possible,” said a Government source.

In recent days, there has been talk of a possible political heave against Ms May and even a vote of no confidence in Westminster.

While Irish diplomatic sources are conscious of staying out of internal British affairs, the Government here also wants to stay informed of how this may affect Brexit.

A spokesman for Mr Coveney refused to say anything about the London meetings or Brexit issues.

Ms May will bring together her ministers on Friday to thrash out details a white paper outlining plans for areas such as trade with Brexit.

Two previous proposals from Mrs May have been shot down by her own party, including a customs partnership involving tariff collections as well as a ‘max fac’ plan to scrap checkpoints and instead use technology to overcome borders.

Instead, this third option, modelled on Norway, is expected to be flagged this week.

The two previous ones were dismissed by the EU and negotiating teams from Brussels.

However, a leading Brexiteer, Jacob Rees-Mogg, has openly warned of a split in the Tory party over Brexit. This could be triggered if, as Mr Rees-Mogg claims, there is any backsliding on the British government’s promises on Brexit.

Unionists have also cautioned against Ms May’s outright authority. DUP leader Arlene Foster met Ms May in London yesterday and afterwards said there was no guaranteed support for her government.

We don’t give blank cheques to anyone,” said Ms Foster.

The DUP said a new customs plan to solve the Irish border issue was discussed but Ms May “didn’t go into any details”. The party said Ms May told them the UK will not remain in the customs union or the single market after Brexit.


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